Applying to Grad School – Application Tips

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Do note that this advice is steered towards US universities and focus on grad school applications. However, some advice is pretty universal so I hope this helps, even if it doesn’t completely apply!

Applications are annoying. They’re even more annoying when you add all the school stuff you need to do on top of them like classes, midterms, homework, etc. If you’re lucky, you’ll come out a little more sleep deprived than usual… If your not, well… None of that talk because this post is meant to help you survive the torment of grad school applications!

So how do you survive? Well start early and plan ahead of course.

You thought I was going to say something more clever huh? Sadly, as cliche and repetitive as this advice is, it is the best advice anyone can give you when it comes to juggling applications on top of everything else you have to do.

So, here’s a few things that you should start looking into and preparing so you can get ahead of the curve!

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Applying to Grad School – Organization Tips

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Applying to schools takes a lot of time, effort and research. Unfortunately, this whole process can get chaotic rather quickly and the universities seem to blend together. However, it is important to keep track of certain information, especially when narrowing down your choices.

Here are some important things I feel are important to keep track of:

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Questions to Ask Before Joining a Research Group



For those of you that are like me, and trying to find your place in a lab to call home, here are a few questions that are important to ask prospective advisers and potential labmates. A combination of these questions give you a bit of insight into both the research being performed and work environment you will be a part of. This way, you can be sure you’re making a good choice when you officially join a lab. Note that some questions are repeated for both the grad students and the faculty, because believe it or not, their answers might differ quite a lot.

Also, a special note to be sure you ask these questions to a large sample size and also talk to both the happiest and grumpy grad students in the same lab, so you get the full picture.

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What’s in my backpack? – First Day of Grad School!

Backpack_2_CCBlogSo this Monday is the start of my grad school adventure. I’ve already gone through orientation and can pretend that I know what I’m doing! Now all that’s left is to brace myself for that fateful day! Luckily, I’ll at least be prepared as my backpack is set and ready to go! 😀

I don’t like carrying a lot of stuff, so the stuff in my bag is pretty minimal. So what’s in my backpack for this year?

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Disclaimer! This post focuses on STEM graduate programs in US universities. In addition, most of these fellowships require you to be a US citizen or permanent resident. Regardless, always read the eligibility requirements carefully.

If you know of common fellowships that are not listed here or see outdated information for those I did list, please let me know and I’ll update the post, as needed.

Last Edited: Sept 5, 2017

FELLOWSHIP SEASON IS HERE! Well, it’s pretty much been here, that sneaky bastard! Let us cry over our applications. ;_;

For those of you that are interested in going to graduate school (or those already in grad school, like myself) I am here to remind you that it is super important to apply for as many fellowships as possible! Why? Because everyone likes money, right?

Admittedly, most STEM graduate programs pay their students a small (but livable) stipend during their time at grad school. However, to get that stipend you might have to do additional things such as extra TA hours, which usually just add to your already busy schedule… Not to mention that bringing your own money to grad school means that 1) for seniors, there’s a better chance of getting accepted to a school/lab of your choice, 2) more professors would be willing to work with you because they don’t have to find funding for you, and 3) sometimes those fellowships give you a bigger salary than your university would! Yay!

So, here’s a list of some fellowships that all upcoming and first year grad students typically apply for, particularly in STEM focused programs!
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Study Tips for Headache Sufferers

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So according to my doctor, a side affect from being an awesome “type A” personality that gets shit done is apparently getting frequent headaches that make doing work so much more difficult. As if my workload wasn’t enough to deal with, I apparently have to get headaches on top of all that too. Just my luck. (I mean, at least I don’t have to deal with migraines, because that’s a whole other ball game. Though I was warned that may be in my future… D:)

So how do I still keep the ball rolling when my temples feel like they’re being pounded by a sledgehammer? Well, I let me show you the tips that work for me!

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Grad School Goals!

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So this year, I decided it was time to make a list of goals that I wanted to accomplish throughout my time at grad school. I figured it was easier to separate them into individual quarters at this point. So, in case you were interested, here are my goals for Fall Quarter!

1. Join a Lab

I mean, that’s the point of going to being a chemistry grad student right? Though this is a bit more than just joining a lab. I want to join a lab that I can call family for the next 5.5 years of my life. It’s a big decision, but my goal is to find a lab that does research I love with people that are amazing. 🙂

2. Be more Social

So I have a problem of shying away from people and sticking to those I’m comfortable with. However, since this is a new university, I don’t have anyone I’m comfortable with. Therefore, I need to open up and be more social so I can actually make friends and have a bit of a life outside of school. O:

3. Be more Confident

I really need to work on this one. I once had a professor I really respect say that he expects me to do great things once I gain the confidence I need to launch myself at whatever task I have. I want to live up to his expectation.

4. Stop Doubting Myself

This kind of goes hand in hand with gaining more confidence…

5. Join a Dance Class

I like dancing but I always find an excuse to not go to classes. I’m too busy. I’m too tired. Well no more! Sometime this quarter I shall join a dance class and attend regularly!

6. Read More

This means both reading for fun and reading scientific journals. Both are going to be beneficial as I move forward with my career. O:

7. Save Money

Now I’m not a big spender in general, but I do make a lot of unnecessary small purchases such as that starbucks coffee I could have made myself, or that lunch that I could have made at home. So this quarter I hope I can change my spending habits for the better!

So there are my goals for the semester/quarter! What goals do you have?

❤ K

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